Welcome! I am using this blog to share our family's homeschooling thoughts and experiences.

THIS SCHOOL YEAR (2018-2019): Our oldest child, EL, finished her formal education in May 2017. She remains at home due to her special needs, and continues to learn with us when she is able. JJ is in 10th grade this year. We intend to homeschool him through High School, and are using a variety of different curriculum choices to complete this goal.

Please feel free to follow along....

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Early American Settlers, Birds and Chipped Beef Gravy

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  What crop was America founded on?
ANSWER:  Tobacco
For HISTORY this week, we focused more on the early American settlers, the sale of tobacco, and the use of African slaves. Here is an interesting video that talks more about this...

ANOTHER QUESTION: What is the game of "Nine Pins?"

ANSWER:  It's a game that was played in colonial times, similar to bowling, only it was played outdoors on the lawn. They used a wooden ball and 9 wooden pins, and they were set up in a sort of diamond shape.

We tried our own game of "Nine Pins" here, improvising with 9 empty plastic water bottles, and a little rubber ball.

FOR SCIENCE:  We focused on birds this week - their beaks, their feet, their feathers, their food, and the way they digest.

One day, we made a BIRD FEEDER out of an empty soda pop bottle and a special attachment we purchased from MY FATHER'S WORLD. We hung it up on our clothesline and hope to see some birds using it soon. Unfortunately, the weather is getting chilly now, so we haven't seen too many birds around.

We also made BIRDS NEST TREATS. Birds use grass, twigs and mud to make their nests, so we used Shredded wheat cereal (crushed up to make about 1/2 cup) for the grass, 2 cups chow mein noodles for the twigs, and 1 cup chocolate chips mixed with 1 cup Sunbutter for the mud. Melt chocolate chips and Sunbutter in a small saucepan. Add to chow mein noodles and shredded wheat. Mix well. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Put in refrigerator until hardened.

Completed Birds Nest Treats.
ALSO IN THE KITCHEN:  JJ used kitchen shears to cut up chipped beef lunchmeat to use in Chipped Beef Gravy on Toast. This is a quick, easy, and inexpensive meal that our family eats quite often. See recipe below.

4 pkgs. (2 oz. each) chipped beef, cut into small pieces
5 cups skim milk
6 1/2 TB cornstarch
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
Black pepper to taste
Combine milk, cornstarch and seasonings in large saucepan or deep skillet. Mix well to dissolve cornstarch. Heat and stir until thickened. Add chopped beef and stir until heated through. Serve on toast.
This makes enough for our family of 4 with a little bit left over.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Marsupials, a Llama Farm, and a Cookie Swap

As we continued our study of mammals this week, we learned about marsupials.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  What is a marsupial?

ANSWER: Its an animal (a mammal) that gives birth to very tiny underdeveloped young which spend several months developing while inside the mother's pouch. Several examples include: koala bears, opossums, Tasmanian devils, and kangaroos.

You can watch this amazing video of a baby kangaroo (a joey) being born and making its way instinctively to the mother's pouch.

Another mammal we learned about this week (although its not a marsupial) is the llama. On Thursday afternoon, we went on a field trip to a nearby llama farm. The kids had a great time interacting with the llamas and walking them around on an obstacle course.

And, before the field trip, we attended a "hangout" with other homeschool families, and some of us exchanged cookies. JJ helped me make gingersnap cookies for the swap. Mmmm!

Although gingersnaps are usually made to be crispy, the recipe I have is for a soft/chewy kind of cookie, which we all love. See the recipe below.

1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used half whole wheat and half unbleached white)
1 ½ tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. allspice

In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter until blended. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine dry ingredients and gradually add to mixture. Mix well. (Dough will be stiff.) Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least for 2 hours).

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets (I used parchment paper).

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until set. Cool for 1 minute before removing from pan.

Makes about 4 dozen.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Pilgrims, Puppets, and Potato Soup

Here are this week's highlights...

For History, we started learning about the Pilgrims (the Puritans who were persecuted in England, transferred to Holland, then traveled to North America on the Mayflower).

A couple of books we have been reading aloud include:

"Almost Home" by Wendy Lawton - which is about Mary Chilton, one of the Mayflower passengers. 

And, "The First Thanksgiving" by Jean George. 

In Science, we are learning about different kinds of Mammals. This week, we focused on apes, monkeys, and aquatic animals.

  • QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  What differentiates a monkey from an ape?  
  • ANSWER:  Monkeys have tails, apes do not. 

For Math, both kids are using Developmental Mathematics now. JJ has finished book 4 and is now in book 5. EL has started with book 3. Our goal this year is for each student to finish at least 2 books, maybe even 3.

For Spelling, after trying a couple of different things, we are back to using AVKO's Sequential Spelling. Last year, we used it for awhile without much success. Now, it seems to be the right fit.

For English, the A.C.E. paces are working well, which I am happy about.

On Sunday, the kids helped out with the children's sermon during church by using their puppets. Most of our friends and family have already seen this video, but here it is again for those of you who haven't seen it. The kids really enjoyed doing this and are working on a new song to do in the near future.

And, in the kitchen, JJ helped me make Cream Cheese Potato Soup for the slow cooker. (See recipe below). This is tasty and filling...

(for a 5 -6 quart slow cooker) 
6 cups water
2 cups ham, diced
2 32-oz. bags frozen cubed hashbrowns
2 8-oz. packages Fat Free Cream Cheese, cubed
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried dill weed

Combine all in slow cooker. Cover. Cook low for 8 hours. After about 4 hours, you can stir to mix in the melted cream cheese.

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Jamestown, The Arch, and Meatball Stew

Our main focus for History this week was the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. We learned more about Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Powhattan Indians. We read books about it, watched videos, and made a small model of a wigwam.

Cut 5 strips from a cereal box and staple them together into a dome.
Tear pieces of construction paper and glue onto the dome.

After the glue dries, cut out a door.
For Science this week, we learned about Mammals.

On Wednesday, we visited the "Gateway to the West" after another doctor appointment for EL. Then, also stopped by to visit with my parents for awhile:

Photo by JJ
And, one night for supper, the kids helped chop vegetables and mix everything into a crockpot for meatball stew: